I’m happy. But I’m broken. My brain is broken. It’s telling me I’m not happy, that I am not okay. Because that is what depression does. Depression lies. It tells you awful things and then convinces you they are facts. It makes you see and feel things that are sometimes not there. It’s evil. And it’s best friend is anxiety. They show up uninvited and ruin everything. Trust me, I know. I’ve been bullied by them for decades.
Truthfully – I’m in a down cycle. Things are dark in my space right now. I’m unmotivated despite having all the lists of things to do and you guys know I know love lists. My face is a leaky mess of tears and sometimes I don’t even know why I’m crying. I’m lethargic and could sleep for days if it was allowed. I get up and attempt to go through the motions because I’m a single mom and I have to. But I’m just blah. If that makes sense.
Over the years I’ve learned a lot of things about dealing with my depression and anxiety. I’ve learned to watch for signs in myself that things are taking a turn for the worse. It’s taken me a long time to recognize those things but being able to know now what they look and feel like has helped a lot. This time around my therapist has me trying something new. I think the gist is around writing out my emotions – anger, fear, guilt and sadness – and seeing how they relate to anything unresolved. Then finding any unreasonable expectations I may have for myself and flipping that expectation around. I’ll report back on my thoughts.
I’ve been in dark valleys before but that doesn’t make it any less scary. I never know how long they will last or how hard they will be to get through. I’m just focused on the things I do know to be true.
This is temporary. You’ve lived through this before and you will make it through this again.
There is light on the other side.
It’s okay to not be okay.
Give yourself grace.
You are so loved.
The other night I was reading in bed – that’s what us bibliophiles do – and I came across something that at that very moment I needed. I’m reading Broken (in the best way possible) by Jenny Lawson* and she was writing about tools that have helped her with her mental health and she said:
Forgive yourself. Forgiveness – something I never considered.
*Side note: Go out right now and buy all the Jenny Lawson books and read them. She’s amazing. She’s legit saved me. She’s my hero.
If you’re new to these parts – I like to confess shit. Just say things that the bloggy-verse that I probably should say in actual confession [or to no one at all]. But you know – relieve the burden of carrying it around in my head. And I’m aging so I only have so much head space to spare.
This is a special confessions edition, specific on mental health since May was Mental Health Awareness Month. Yeah I’m late – but shit happens. And no I am not going to lecture you but rather confess some [very hard] truths about my mental health in hopes you might confess or face some hard truths about your own or someone you know. Regardless, know that it’s real, it can be very scary and very lonely and it should always be taken seriously.
So lets confess some shit…
I have chronic depression and anxiety disorder. And I am heavily medicated.
My depression began in middle school (about 6th grade) and anxiety kicked into high gear in high school. I don’t recall anytime since then that I’ve not had either in my life.
In my family – mental health anything was frowned upon. You were depressed? You were supposed to get over it. You had anxiety? You were told to stop being anxious. Period.
I once went off my meds cold turkey. Serotonin withdrawal is awful. NOT RECOMMENDED.
My depression has taken many forms over the years. From nights planning my death and calling the Suicide Lifeline (1-800-273-8255, just in case you need it) to cutting, pill taking, hiding my home or just not being able to fully function.
My anxiety has also surfaced in many forms over the years. Panic attacks that would send me to the ER with a heart rate into the 180s+, blackouts where I’d wake up really disoriented and not know who/where/what the hell was going on for about 30 mins, dizziness, blurred vision, the shakes, and so on.
When Mike and I started dating- my panic attacks slowed down dramatically.
I have eczema and pick at it when I’m stressed or down or just want to hurt, to feel something. My arms are scared and most of the time I don’t care to show them.
I have two main outlets to deal with life – writing and reading.
I’ve kept a journal for as long as I can remember. Most of my childhood journals were destroyed by my mother (a post for another time). But I’ve always kept a journal and always will.
I read to escape into new places, take new adventures, solve new mysteries. To get out of my own head for a while. This is part of the reason I needed a library in my home.
Working out is starting to become a new outlet. SHOCKING FOR ME, I KNOW!!! But I think it’s because I pushing myself. I’m also in the renaissance!
Sometimes I’m entirely nonfunctional. I feel like an awful human being. And I hate that my kid is now old enough know something is wrong.
I’ve found some comfort in other people who understand. I often seek refuge in the words of Jenny Lawson, my favorite blogger and author. She gets that’s depression lies and darkness is real. She saves me.
I have depression (who doesn’t, right?) and anxiety. Neither are anything I love to talk about but mental health is a real struggle that a lot of us face, often in silence. I’m medicated, so I function. Just like most, I have ups and downs, peaks and valleys of good mental health and bad.
Currently – I’m in a valley. A dark, desolate valley.
The valley is surrounded by enormous mountains, dark and ominous on all sides. Intimidating even at a distance, even at night. It’s dry here. Even the air is stale, as if all the moisture was sucked out of it. It’s hard to breathe. The ground around me is nothing but dirt and rocks. No grass grows. Nothing. Drought has seized this valley. It is brittle and sad. Hardly any life flourishes because the ground has barely anything left to give. What does survive is the most resilient of plants and animals. The outcasts. The things no one truly wants. Also the things that scare me the most. The ground is jagged with fallen boulders and rocks as obstacles almost in all directions.
The wind begins to pick up. It’s rough, almost like a storm. The kind of storm that you love in the comfort of your own bed but is terrifying in a valley of your depressive conscience. There is no where safe for me to take shelter. No trees to help cover me. I can barely see in front of me. The dust and dirt and pebbles are pelting my body. It hurts. Darkness consumes me. The wind envelopes me. All I want to do it lay down and let them take over. But I don’t. I walk. I’ve been here before. Maybe not this exact valley but one like it. This is familiar. I can feel blood start to run down the arm I am using to protect my face. It stings from all the dirt. I walk on in hopes that darkness will end. That there will be light.
I know it’s been months since I last posted but I was in a dark place. I had to take a break from writing because my brain was being stupid and I was being self destructive. But I’m here. Hope you are too.
It’s gray outside. Much like it is inside. Overcast, cold…the kind of day that you want to stay in bed forever and do nothing. Hide from the world, your responsibilities and problems. That’s how I’m feeling today. Honestly, how I’ve been feeling.
I’m up and trying to keep busy. Faking my way through the day. But I want to stay in my bed, in the dark. Trying to focus on the fact that depression lies.